It can be difficult to avoid drinking alcohol while pregnant in the first month of pregnancy, especially since it is usually not immediately known that you have conceived. One statistic said about 90% of women drink before they realize that they are pregnant.
If this happened to you, you have nothing to worry about. For the first month of a pregnancy, your baby is wrapped in a protective sac, which keeps him or her safe from things such as alcohol.
After this first month most people know they are pregnant, and can change their behavior accordingly, so the protective sac goes away. For this reason, it is important that you stop or at least cut back on drinking alcohol once you realize you are pregnant.
While it will likely not harm your baby if you continue drinking alcohol while pregnant within the first month, you should limit yourself once you realize you are pregnant. The protective casing will only last for the first month, so adding alcohol to your pregnancy diet during the first trimester (that is, the first fourteen weeks) is not recommended.
Several women have said they or friends of theirs drank sparingly while they were pregnant, and their babies are healthy and developing as they should be. Additionally, women in Europe continue to drink while they are pregnant, though it is not clear whether that has a negative effect on their children.
The greatest side effect of drinking alcohol while pregnant is a Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD), which covers a variety of problems children can be born with. If your child is born with one of these, he or she may have learning disabilities or may have developmental problems.
Alcohol can alter your unborn baby's brain, as he or she is in the early developmental stages while you are pregnant. This also increases your risk of miscarriage or stillbirth, and could cause Fetal Alcohol Syndrome, which affects their growth, and may include physical defects or damage to the central nervous system.
It is commonly known that if you drink alcohol while you are pregnant, you run a high risk that you will negatively affect your unborn baby. Even doctors disagree about whether the amount of alcohol is a factor in this risk. Some will give permission to drink a moderate amount (an occasional glass of wine or beer) and insist there will be no harm to your child.
Others will tell you drinking alcohol while pregnant is an unnecessary risk, and you should avoid it completely. Everyone agrees that heavy drinking is deleterious to an unborn child, but when it comes to smaller amounts there is some confusion about the facts.
While this should not be a deciding factor in what you choose to do, according to a recent study done by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), one in eight pregnant women drink alcohol.
Jacques Moritz, director of gynecology at St. Luke's-
Another factor in whether drinking alcohol during your pregnancy is harmful to your child is how high your level is of the enzyme that helps to break down alcohol.
The fact is that drinking alcohol while pregnant, particularly in large amounts, increases the risk of your child having a Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD), which can affect their ability to learn, or cause a speech or language delay. Since at this point there has not been enough research done to determine how much or how little alcohol can cause this, medical communities continue to advise against the use of any alcohol.
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